Radiation Coming Our Way

March 15, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

BU011481What you can eat to beat nuclear plant fallout.

Last Friday, Japan was hit with an 8.9-magnitude earthquake—the largest since the country began keeping records in the 19th century. It was followed by a tsunami that ripped through the country’s coastline, destroying virtually everything in sight. The quake damaged several nuclear reactors, leading to threats of harmful radioactive leaks and meltdowns. Because radioactivity is airborne, it can be transported for hundreds of miles beyond its origin.

This air-borne radiation may take weeks or even months to reach our coasts, but reach us, it will.

Radiation damages living tissue by removing electrons from other atoms or molecules with which it comes into contact. These radioactive particles get into our bodies via air, water, or food—destroying tissues, organs, cells, and genes. It does its damage by attaching to the cells—where it stays for a very long time—absorbing large amounts of minerals and trace elements, leaving the body with little reserve to carry on its normal functions of digestion, absorption, elimination, and reproduction.

Radiation zaps our immune system, leaving us vulnerable to all sorts of nonspecific ailments, from mystery viruses to attacks of “flu.” While fatigue, loss of appetite, skin problems, and loss of taste are the most common short-term symptoms, the effects on our long term health can be horrendous—premature aging, cancer, leukemia, genetic mutations, abnormal blood clotting, and thyroid and bone disorders. Radiation exposure from nuclear plant fallout—as well as fallout from the detonation of atomic bombs—can even create mental impairment and increased fetal and infant deaths.

So, what can we do to keep ourselves and our families safe? The good news is there are many healing foods and supplements available to help the body fight back. Here are my recommendations:

Minerals are the spark of life and even more important than vitamins when it comes to cellular health. They recharge us on a minute to minute basis, empowering every cell, organ, and tissue of the body.

Radiation RX Superstars:
• Sea vegetables—with their high sodium alginate content—are great radiation chelators. Choose from nori, wakame, kombhu, arame, dulse, hijiki, kelp, and agar agar. Many of these foods—in addition to miso soup—were fed to the staff and patients of a hospital in Nagaski, Japan when the atomic bomb hit the area in World War II.
• Vegetables high in beta carotene aid in boosting immunity and protecting mucus membranes from extreme dryness and reddening of the tissues caused from radiation exposure. Choose from kale and all greens, carrots, spinach, pumpkin and winter squash, beets, sweet potatos, melons, apricots, and other yellow, and orange, and red fruits and vegetables.
• Homeopathic cell salts—especially Cadmimum Sulph and Kali Phos—are well recognized radiation antidotes.
• Potassium, calcium, and mineral rich foods help support thyroid function—the gland that is most easily impacted by radiation exposure of any type. Choose from fruit, nuts and seeds, fish, and poultry.

Other helpful radiation food remedies:
• High nucleotide content foods to protect DNA integrity. Choose from sardines, anchovies, and brewers yeast.
• Adaptogens. Choose from astragalus, ginsing, shiitake and maitake mushrooms.

• Potassium iodide saturates the thyroid with stable iodide so it won’t absorb radioactive iodine. A fully saturated thyroid would be protected for up to one month—long enough for radioactive iodine (with a half-life of 8 days) to disappear from the environment. Try Iodoral, which contains potassium iodide. You can order it by calling UNI KEY at (800) 888-4353. Please be aware that because of high demand supplies are limited. You may also try searching your local health food store.
• Bee propolis is the resin bees make to build their hives to protect against pathogens and molds. It’s a source of caffeic acid that can protect lymphocytes (immune system cells) from gamma radiation, acts as an anti-inflamatory, and protects against cancer.
• Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) supplements have been used to reduce tissue injury brought on by radiation treatments. Studies show it acts not only as an antioxidant, but also as an anti-inflammatory. It helps the body use the trace minerals zinc, copper, and manganese, which defend the mitochondria from free radical damage. Try Oxi-Key, which contains a full dosage of Superoxide Dismutase (5,500 units, 1-3 times per day), plus sulfur rich amino acids that open up the detox pathways to help the body excrete toxins and pollutants out of the body.

In the wake of disaster, there are ways to brace for the impact on your health.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Susan

    Thanks Dr. Ann for this! I have been wondering just how I could protect my family during this catastrophe. Even though the experts say we shouldn’t be alarmed, I know enough to know that God didn’t intend on our bodies to be exposed to this stuff and any amount, even small, is more than our bodies can handle.

    Although we already eat many of the things you mentioned, I will shop tomorrow for the other things. I don’t know how long it will take for the radiation to reach me in So CA, but we will be strong, nourished and ready -thanks to you!!

  2. Jennie

    Great article! Thank You!

  3. Elizabeth Sandia

    We will all do our best to try and protect ourselves from this fall out coming our way.
    It seems that the saying “what goes around, comes around. Too bad the Japanese did not have weeks or months warning when we dropped our 2 nuclear bombs on them!

  4. Mari Quigley Miller

    I have recently taken myself off Armour Thyroid.. my TSH has been very low and normal.. So far so good .. taking kelp and Iodine supplement.s.. Do you think this was a good idea.. I am so sick and tired of taking any meds.. (my only med was the Armour.. 30 mg a day)…

  5. Francois Lachaîne

    How about ULTRA H-3, isn’t this supplement a protector of cells and also a detoxifior, will this product protect aginst radiation?


  6. Marti

    good info to pass on to my son… he is moving to Japan in April to attend a semester of classes at a university in Tokyo

    since the recommendations were written for US residents, would your recommendations for nutritional supplementation be different for residents of Japan????

  7. Sierra

    Seeings as every place I’ve checked is out of iodoral or other potassium iodide supplements, i will definitely be doubling up on my Ultra H3!! It helps protect and repair your cells, so i feel it will be my best form of protection!

  8. Elizabeth Good

    Great article! I always trust you & it’s great to get your calming, clear advice on this. Am sharing this article widely. I do have a question about potassium iodide. The article on Healthline from Center for Disease Control says that taking it more than once can cause complications, but it sounds like in other sources such as yours one would want to keep on it for a while. So I am confused about when to start & stop, especially since we do not know when radiation could affect West Coast from Japan’s quake, nor if we should be on it proplyactically in the event of other similar events?

  9. Mari Quigley Miller

    Opps.. sorry .. got ahead of myself.. the theme was radiation.. Great article Ann..
    Maybe you can answer my other question at another time..

  10. Jutta

    I too would like to know the dosage of potassium iodide . My supply is in liquid form

  11. Tina

    I purchased potassium iodide a few years ago in anticipation of not of a reactor meltdown but instead from a atomic bomb; glad I did. You mention saturating the thyroid. How much and how long until enough is built up in order to protect it?

  12. lailam

    i intuitively suspected that radiation could be drifting silently towards us in the west coast (or which ever way the winds blow) “any day now”. life is such that nothing is guaranteed…..however i do appreciate the timely information concerning on how to protect our lives during these times of tragic events with uncertain futures. thanks again for this important info.

  13. Candra

    Thanx for the advice. I know this is for people, but I wish someone would give advice on how we could protect our beloved pets, too. Or, what we can get for ourselves that’s safe
    for them also.

  14. Carol

    Great info on Radiation. I’m confused about the ‘life’ of radiation. In the beginning of your article you mention that radiation can be airborne for months. Later you state that radiation has a ‘half-life of 8 days’ so wouldn’t it disappear before it reaches the United States? Also, once it is in the water supply and food sources, how long is it dangerous to life? If we begin being proactive with our diet and supplements now are there long term effects of potassium iodide supplementation.

    On another note, THANK YOU for sharing your expertise with us. It has greatly improved my quality of living and continues to be my first resource when looking for health information. Namaste.

  15. Linda

    Those of you old enough to remember Gefnoble (a Russian nuclear accident in the mid-to-late 1980’s), probably did not notice that your hair (especially the hair that you normally shaved on a weekly bases) stopped growing for approximately three weeks. The Gernoble accident happened in Russia and at that time I lived in central-lower Michigan. I met with my two sisters several weeks later and asked them if they notice that they hadn’t had to shave their legs, armpits, etc. Both said that it was true for them as well. They also confessed that they probably wouldn’t have even realized it had happened if I hadn’t asked them about it at the time.

    Well it happened to me, again. The hair on my legs was only half (or less) of what it should have been to shave off this morning (Wednesday, 03/16/11), So, for the second time in my lifetime, it is my personal opinion that you do not have to wait for winds or tides to deliver nuclear fallout. It is my personal opinion that nuclear radioactivity has a precussor to winds and tides–and that there is another means of a more immediate, and potentially, world-wide, exposure.

    I appreciate all of the information in this article (thank you, Ann). Additionally, I bathe in of 2# of baking soda for 20-40 minutes, 2-3 times per week for 3 weeks following a known exposure. Some naturopaths believe this pulls radiation from the body. Accordingly, I am not sure this is intended for nuclear radiation–as it was notated for x-ray and high-tech imaging types of radiation.

    I am possitive, however, that whatever is happening in Japan is already very real to me in Michigan, physically–and I will do what I can, accordingly, for myself and family. I hope everyone else will take notice and make appropriate choices for themselves.

  16. Sha

    I do hope that everyone is getting second and maybe third opinions before they start taking “another” supplement. They have had many “Experts” on the news and there is an article on webmd.com that states taking potassium iodine will not prevent radiation exposure, but is the treatment for it. Even if you take it ahead of time, it will not help in prevention. I also want to say to Linda in Michigan, I hate to be the one to inform you, but Gefnoble is not in Russia, and it’s also not Gefnoble, it’s Grenoble and it’s a city located in France. Chernobyl is where the nuclear plant blew up on April 26, 1986. Chernyobyl is in Russia. As for the lack of hair growth, did you ever consider that it could be a genetic thing since it happened to your sisters also? You said that you are “positive that whatever is happening in Japan is already very real” to you in Michigan, PHYSICALLY–I also think that it is having an affect on you emotionally. The mind is a very powerfull thing and some people are easily conviced that something is true and therefore will show signs or symptoms of whatever is suggested to them. You mentioned that you have a family and I can only hope that your paranoia does not end up affecting them physically and emotionally. Please, please, please try and make yourself more informed and less influenced by your own paranoid thoughts or one article that read. I myself am a big fan of Dr. Oz, but just because he says something he feels to be true does not mean that I don’t do some research of my own. Just a little advice to keep in mind before you decide to post any comments on any message board.

  17. cathy

    thank you Sha for your comments.My thoughts exactly.Regarding all the News we are receiving from Japan.It is old when we get it.I have direct contact with US military ,and the news is very different.Much fear mongering going on.

  18. cathy

    I must say there is so much misinformation being reported by all the news agencies.The plethora of “experts” crawling out from under rocks ,spreading their fears is almost criminal.In addition the units of measurements reported vary according to the source.Some use mSv,some rems.if you do not understand the vast differences in these two units you will be very confused.Recognize too that a plume traveling for a week across several thousand miles will have dissipated not only in terms of half life ,but with any precipitation it encounters.Bottom line,we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

  19. Aprile

    I really appreciate the news on this website. Prayer really makes a difference, faith is your answer to all problems. We need to send additional prayers to Japan!
    Making the right decisions, while retaining our beliefs, will bring us through to the other side.
    Have faith and do what you needs to be done!

  20. Sha

    I’m glad to hear that there is still some rational thinking going on out there.Thank you for the acknowledement Cathy. I have done some more research and have received more information from some people on Facebook. I know that our bodies need iodine and we don’t produce it on our own so we need to get it from somewhere.Iodine is in our salt and can also be found in kelp. There is so much information out there that you really need to be vigilant in your research and try to research credible sights. It can be very confusing because for every pro article you read there is a con article disputing it. Again, it is a personal choice, but our choices need to be made from intelligence and not ignorance. I don’t want to be taken as being rude when I say ignorance, because I think that everyone is ignorant of something. None of us know everything so that leaves us ignorant to certain information. I do have to say that through an extensive Facebook conversation yesterday I myself have gleaned so much more information than I had before.

    Aprile, I have to agree with you also. I had the very same conversation yesterday with some of the Facebook people.I am a Christian and have faith that everything happens for a reason. Prayer is a very powerfull thing and should be a part of your daily life. We say that our God is a loving God and then something like what happened in Japan comes along and some people begin to wonder. I still have faith that God doesn’t make mistakes and as horrific as this was, he has a plan. I recently learned that the majority of Japan are Atheists and please do not thing that I am saying this happened because of it or that they deserved it, because I AM NOT SAYING THAT. It may be his way of getting them to turn to him for help. It may also be a message to the rest of the world also. I don’t know the answer, that’s where my faith comes in. I guess all I can say is make informative choices, pray and things will be clear to you. Thanks for reading and remember that my words are not meant to be hurtful or to tell anyone that they are wrong and I am right. My words are just meant to get you thinking. God Bless

  21. Liz

    Everyone’s level of iodine in their body is different. Most people are deficient and many are also deficient in potassium. That’s why Dr. Ann Louise recommends taking an Iodine Loading test to see how much Iodine you need to be at a normal, functional level in your own body. Eating the foods higher in iodine is a good step as well.

  22. Fooch

    Do I need to remind people of the first responders at ground zero on 9-11 and all the other people who were told the AIR WAS SAFE by the government, EPA, and “experts”?? And now, most of them are dead due to complications, and the ones who aren’t are alive with severe respiratory problems?

    If you believe the media for one second, then you are a fool and reap what you sew. Do you actually think they would just tell people the truth and incite a mass panic? It amazes me how people go to the media for the truth. I think many of you miss the bigger picture and are very myopic.

    Radioactive Iodine is a carcinogen. A carcinogen in ANY amount is not good for you. Period. If you take too much fat soluble vitamin, it can be bad. But good in a proper dose. There is a difference between the two!

    Use some common sense. I don’t care who’s the expert speaking or what title they have. It boils down to common sense. And I’m tired of fools who try and label the educated and aware individuals as paranoid and/or fear mongers. No, I have common sense. And I am prepared. And, I live a happy balanced life.

    Rather than remain myopic, you should watch on google video the documentary of Creature from Jekyll Island, Invisilbe Empire, Fall of the Republic an Endgame. Then you will understand why we are where we are at today, and why the elite (who happen to own the media) don’t care about you or anyone else’s health. Until you educate yourself, you are going to remain ignorant and fall to prey to situations like this where you are told Radioactive Iodine isn’t bad. Keep on believing the media and experts, we’ll see where that gets you.

  23. Sha

    Well, Fooch, thanks for the reminder, but some of us have not forgotten 9-11 and never will! I referred to “experts” the same way you did, by putting the word experts in quotes. Just because someone is labeled as an expert doesn’t mean they are the only one we should listen to or are the only one who knows everything. The so called elite that own the media did allow them to report that the government in Japan was reporting lower amounts of radioactivity that what the U.S. government was reporting. I myself am not a believer of our own government. I believe that they lie all of the time. I also think that the media, if they don’t have all of the facts about a situation, will insert their own opinions into the mix which is completely stupid and confusing to some people. This is nothing new and I think what everyone after Linda in Michigan was trying to convey is that you should do some research on your own, use your own common sense and just try to make yourself as informed as you possibly can.

    I think we covered the whole “radioactivity is bad for you” thing, but thanks for the reminder on that also. What I am tired of is “educated” and “aware” individuals thinking that they aren’t fools and aren’t paranoid in any way. We are not in Japan and are not living next to their nuclear plant so the situation is a little different for us here in the U.S. I was pointing out to Linda in Michigan that her whole theory of the hair on her legs not growing was a pretty paranoid observation.

    If you read what Cathy had to say I think you would find that her comments were very informed and intelligent. Liz also made a very good point about iodine levels and referred back to what Dr. Ann Louise was saying about getting your levels tested. I did learn that as far as your thyroid is concerned, it can not tell the difference between good iodine and radioactive material, so saturating your thyroid with good iodine will not allow any bad to get in. Basically once your thyroid is full it will not absorb any more.

    Like I said before I think you should get your information from multiple sources and make your own decisions. I am curious though, if you think the “elite” own the media then where is it that you get all of your information from? I originally got my info from the news then I looked up some info on the web and I also got some info from people on Facebook. Some of the people I communicate with on Facebook are more holistic and organic and definitely do not go for the traditional ways of the world. Even though I may not have the same opinions as they do, I do learn from them and by doing so it does broaden my awareness and I am very grateful for their opinions and also their understanding and patience with me.

    This FOOL is just curious as to why someone who claims to be educated and aware can be so hateful and rude? You would think that your education could have taught you a more constuctive way of getting your point across. You would also think that you would have the capability of reading and comphrehension. The opinions before yours were saying the same thing as far as using common sense and using other sources to inform yourself, but I guess it sounds different coming from an “educated” person.

    Thank you for the google video information, I will take the time to check them out.

  24. Annie

    Sorry if I have taken the comments of Sha incorrectly, but feel compelled to respond that most Japanese are not atheists at all, but, believe in, in order of number of followers: Shinto, Buddhist, Confucianism, Christianity and then Islamic.

  25. Sha

    No problem Annie. Actually, I was repeating info from the Pastor at my brother’s church and probably shouldn’t have repeating what he was saying without doing any research on it. It was the first time I have ever heard him preach and I knew I wasn’t quite sure about him. What he had said in his sermon was that back when Pear Harbor happened they looked at their country’s leader as a God and when they were defeated the people felt as if their “God” had failed them. That’s when he said that most of the older generation became Athiest because they felt that their God was dead. He is pretty radical in his Christianity. I’m glad you said something Annie because it was kind of bothering me ever since I posted the comment. The way this Pastor was making sound was like it was like a punishment and way of hopefully getting them to move toward Christianity. I have been having a hard time with that notion. I was talking about it with my boyfriend’s Mom just yesterday. I don’t think we’ll ever know why such a horrible thing could happen but praying for them to have the strength to get through this is all we can do. Thanks again Annie, I really appreciate your information.

  26. butterflygirl

    I love, love, love Dr. O’hirra’s Probiotics 12 Plus. I’ve tried so many other quality ones in the past but, nothing compares to the quality, convenience, chewablity to quench heartburn or nausea and to help with detox. Plus, they don’t have to be refridgerated. But, since they are made from ingredients in high-radiation Japan, I cannot feel good about taking any of the new product produced. What do you feel is the ‘next best’ probiotic, similar? Thank you!

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